The FBI is investigating pay-for-play claims levied against Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, TMZ Sports reports.
Federal agents want to speak to John Bond, a former Mississippi State football player, after he claimed someone representing the Heisman hopeful contacted him in 2009 saying it would take $180,000 for Newton to sign with MSU.
An attorney for Bond confirms to TMZ Sports that the FBI has requested a meeting with his client.
This latest blow to Newton comes after an ESPN.com report claims that he and his father each had a separate phone conversation with an MSU recruiter about a pay-for-play arrangement.
According to the ESPN report, one of the recruiters said Cecil Newton told him before Cam Newton committed to Auburn that it would take "more than a scholarship" for his son to attend Mississippi State. An unidentified source told ESPN that another recruiter received a phone call from an emotional Cam Newton after he committed to the Tigers, when he said his father selected Auburn for him because "the money was too much."
ESPN, citing two other unidentified sources close to the football program, also reported Mississippi State compliance officials relayed the alleged conversations to Southeastern Conference compliance officials in January.
FoxSports.com reported Monday that Newton was caught cheating three times while he was at the University of Florida and was to appear for a hearing in front of Florida's Student Committee facing possible expulsion during the spring semester of 2009.
Tigers coach Gene Chizik dismissed the academic cheating report as "pure garbage" in an emotional 4-minute, 25-second rant.
"I'm standing up here on a very important week trying to defend something that's garbage," Chizik said. The second-ranked Tigers face rival Georgia on Saturday, and that's where Newton insists his focus lies.
Newton transferred from Florida to Blinn Junior College in Brenham, Texas, where he played last season. He declined to discuss the FoxSports.com report, which came on the heels of Bond saying someone claiming to represent the Newton family sought money during his recruitment by the school.
"I'm not going to entertain something that took place not three months, not six months, not a year but two years ago," Newton said. "I'm not going to sit up here and say anything about it, whether I did or did not do it, because I don't want to beat a dead horse talking about it. It's not going to affect me any way, shape or fashion."
Newton has denied doing anything wrong in his recruitment. A person familiar with the situation has told The Associated Press that the university has received no letter of inquiry from the NCAA and that an internal review of phone and e-mail records showed no contact with Kenny Rogers, whom ESPN.com cited as the man who approached Bond.
The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to publicly discuss the matter, said the university also found nothing improper in the personal and church bank records of Newton's father, an Atlanta pastor.
Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs also defended Newton from the latest accusation in a strongly worded statement. He reiterated that the quarterback is eligible.
"These allegations and rumors about Cam Newton are unfortunate and sad because they seem intent on tearing down the reputation of a young man who has done everything we've asked him to do," Jacobs said. "Cam has been and continues to be completely honest with us. Cam is, by all accounts, a great kid."
FoxSports.com reported that Newton turned in another student's paper with his name on it and handed in another paper that was later found to have been purchased off the Internet.
Jacobs said he couldn't talk about Newton's academic records because that would violate privacy laws.
"We will not go down that path or stoop to that level as others have apparently done," he said, adding "emphatically" that he remains eligible.
Newton was arrested at Florida in November 2008 for having a stolen laptop. The charges were dropped last December when he completed a pretrial intervention program for first-time offenders.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.